back to article Help! We're being crushed, cry billionaire cable giants

US cable carriers are crying foul against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over what they say are overbearing and heavy-handed regulations being placed on their market. Speaking at an event in Boston, Michael Powell - CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and former FCC chairman - said that …

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Cry me a river.

Um, yeah. I don't have a massive amount of sympathy for the cable companies.

My interpretation of Michael Powell's complaint is:

"We thought we had the regulatory environment nicely sewn up into a cozy little cartel with our bought-and-paid for legislators and huge barriers to entry that ensured we were the only game in town, and now this new Chair of the FCC has come along and is messing up all our carefully-constructed oligopoly. Who does he think he is, the horrible little man? Does anyone know if he's amenable to some carefully-deniable 'campaign contributions'?? If not, what sort of Federal employee IS HE???"

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Re: Cry me a river.

Yep. Fuck them. They charge more and offer less and less. I get that they are also getting squeezed by the copyright holders of the content, but fuck them too.

I've pretty much opted out of the whole entertainment circus. I watch free broadcast TV, don't buy music and rent the occasional movie and if something is really interesting, I'll see if I can get it over the Internet. If not, then I stop caring.

Nothing about the industry makes my life better in any substantial way. Nothing.

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Whiner

"What has been so distressing is that much of this regulatory ordinance has been launched without provocation," Powell said.

verb: to snivel or complain in a peevish, self-pitying way

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Provocation

""What has been so distressing is that much of this regulatory ordinance has been launched without provocation,"

Ah, from *their* point-of-view. From my POV, I receive a grating provocation monthly on top of progressively slower network speeds and near weekly interruptions in service. They can't be thinking of the customers when they declare an absence of 'provocation'.

Aside: how many chairs are left in a game of musical chairs before it's obvious there's no competition happening anymore?

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Open Access

Perhaps they need to learn a bit from BT and require the big almost-monopolies to provide access to the subscriber base similar to how ISPs have access to BT lines in the UK at a sensible cost. While not perfect, it would be a huge improvement over the existing arrangements where there is no effective competition. It is notable how the cable companies have improved their game when Google fibre has come to town.

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Re: Open Access

This is, in fact, how Sprint, MCI et al got their collective foot on the door in the mid 80s. BT history = derivative, not model.

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Mushroom

OMG, Competition? Never!

All the so-called "broadband" providers we have in this country deserve whatever happens to them. They've consistently screwed Americans. We have some of the poorest "broadband" available in the world at nosebleed prices, and have their greed to thank for it.

Hopefully the FCC's actions will help put the shoe on the other foot, and I hope it pinches those buggers like hell!

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Childcatcher

Help! We're being crushed

Sure they are. And there's a war on Christmas, too.

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Trollface

Re: Help! We're being crushed

Awwww, and i always liked christmas....

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sick of monopolies crying about regulation. A free market isn't lack of regulation for dominant players, it's basically the opposite, and includes a framework that enables new market entrants to come in and compete with their stupid asses.

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Childcatcher

Crony Capital Fat Cats Are Spoiled Too

What's the use of having a Monopoly when no one wants your product anymore? They want their users attached to them like they're attached to the government by giant blood sucking tentacles.

By the way, I have an idea for a new hit reality show. Kim Kardasian undergoing liposuction for a month.

Interest will guarantee to fade or your money back.

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"Help! We're being crushed cry billionaire cable giants"

Facing actual competition got you scared, deary?

Here's a prepared response of my opinion.

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Childcatcher

Poor Corporatocracy Cry Babies Sob Sob

NO

SYMPATHY

Grow up and try capitalism instead of parasitism.

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Thumb Down

Poor babies... NOT. Our local tv/telco/ISP lets us use a 3rd modem for the broadband only, but not if you go with VOIP or the TV box. I'm really wondering how much of this is pure BS as I would think that VOIP would meet some industry standard. Same for the TV. Remember when all the TV suddenly came out as "cable ready"... and they worked until some cable giant decided to use some format/menuing system and one had to get their box.

Screw the users for all their worth, suck up any competition.. mega-corps = max profit!!!! BAH!!!!

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Vic
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Our local tv/telco/ISP lets us use a 3rd modem for the broadband only, but not if you go with VOIP or the TV box

I have two small caveats to use of a third-party box.

Firstly, when a new type of service is being rolled out, there is quite a lot of NRE to get the hardware ready. Without new hardware, there is no service. In this situation, I think it is reasonable to have a time-limited monopoly on the new hardware; the alternative is for the service to be priced to cover that NRE with the boxes thrown in "for free", and that doesn't actually help the consumer.

The above clearly does not apply when hardware to do the job is already on the market.

Secondly, isochronous transport - such as TV or VoIP - can be extremely sensitive to hardware; I've seen many phone systems that are sat behind the crappiest router known to man, and the customer bellyaches that his phone doesn't work. Swapping out the router for something of decent quality brings the system up ar expected. So whilst I wouldn't forbid third-party hardware for this sort of job, I would explain to customers that it would be their responsibility to choose something that works, with attendant charges for call-outs that end up being down to inappropriate customer-supplied hardware.

But these are minor quibbles; in general, customers should have the right to choose the kit they use.

Vic.

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I have two small caveats to use of a third-party box.

Both fully addressable through the use of Standards (and preferably International Standards) and conformance and interoperability testing. A problem that was solved in the 1980's, but the world thought it could do without...

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Vic
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Both fully addressable through the use of Standards

No, not completely.

Although standards might describe *how* to build a decoder, that decoder doesn't exist until someone builds it. So someone has to do that engineering to implement the standard; the first manufacturer will have to commit to that development with no possibility of selling any units unless the service takes off. It's a chicken-and-egg thing which is fixable by giving that manufacturer a time-limited monopoly.

And as for the time-critical bit - yes, if every manufacturer implemented the standard correctly, then any box would do. But they simply don't; some kit is sorely deficient. And if you're trying to ioplement a phone system across routers that don't work properly, your phone system is not going to work. It's wrong, IMO, to penalise the operator of a working service for the deficiencies in equipment he neither built, sold, nor specified, but rather was forced to accept.

Vic.

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For cable modems the US cable companies do at least allow you to purchase your own box rather than rent one of theirs. There is a list of approved boxes, although in searching for the ones that support VoIP I found several hens' teeth on the journey. So now I have my own box, it's been installed just over a year and has probably just about paid for itself in terms of saved rental costs. It works quite well too, unlike the one they'd been renting me up to that point (which they'd broken with a firmware upgrade).

It would be interesting to see how this works out with the TV boxes, there's a whole different product requirement there.

On the other side of things, I don't remember having a choice of box with UK cable, but then there wasn't an explicit line item for rental either, and part of the sales pitch was that if it broke they'd fix it or replace it for free. That doesn't happen if it's your own box.

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Bah!

"Tectonic?" Another verbal offering to the goddess Hyperbole.

If I've told that man once I've told him a million times not to exaggerate.

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Coat

Re: Bah!

I think "tectonic" is meant as a compliment to federal agency, finally doing its job. Of course they dress it as a complaint, but endless experience demonstrated that these companies easily confuse these two :)

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It's not just the cable companies

I have a choice of Verizon and Optimum cable. The town next door has forbidden Verizon from running fiber optic cable to provide an alternative choice. The politicians all turn a deaf ear.

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Nanotechnology

You know soon we will really crack nanotechnology, we will be able to make items down to 1 to 100 nanometers, still not going to be able to build a violin small enough.

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Go

Awesome picture choice

Paddlin' the school canoe? Oh, you better believe that's a paddlin'

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"We increasingly are saddled with heavy rules without any compelling evidence of harm to consumers or competitors."

By "without compelling evidence" he means "LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

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WTF?

3rd Party Cable Boxes already Exist

I haven't had a cable company issued box since at least 2000. My TiVo does everything including "Pay Per View" and "On Demand" video using the existing FCC mandated CableCard standard.

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